Her IMDB bio describes Judy Matheson as sophisticated, as elegant, as charismatic, and beautiful, And every one of those points is spot on and perfectly describes not only one of the most talented actresses around but also one of the nicest people around Judy Matheson is one of Hammers most iconic and talented ladies and with a wide range of film and television projects to her name, it would be hard work to pick out my favourites. You can check out her filmography here
Judy took some time out to take receipt of the Spending Time With…questions and today I received those answers back and as I knew they would be. They were a great read. So without any more waffling from me. Heres what its like. Spending Time With Judy Matheson.
When people ask you ‘so, what do you do?’ How do you introduce yourself?
Ha -that really depends on who & where. For the past 14 years I say ‘I teach’, which is what I have been doing, but I have recently retired ( though I dislike that word!) If it comes up I might say, usually somewhat self- deprecatingly, ‘I used to be an actress’. But that’s often a bit of a minefield; even if you are presently working as an actor, you can get a lot of awkward resposes, such as ‘Have I seen you in anything?’ To which the obvious answer is ‘I don’t know – have you?’ Or it may go something like ‘Oh my brother does a bit of acting’ which often means he takes part in the local Am-Dram panto in the church hall, which can cause the conversation to stop flowing!
What’s the first thing you do when you get on ‘set’
That also depends, but usually you are hustled to the makeup room with a cup of bad coffee thrust into your hands & no time to put your stuff into your trailer/dressing room But I always loved that – that early morning buzz, being picked up at some unearthly hour, disguised in huge sunglasses because you’re too vain to be seen bare-faced, & driven to the location (or studio) before the sun’s up.I do miss that thrill.
Do you have any traditions that you have when you are involved in a project?
Perhaps in the theatre, especially on tour, you want to make your dressingroom ‘home’ as soon as possible, so I set up all my makeup & photos,good luck gifts, & cards have to go up, before I can settle.
What was the most recent book you read?
The Party by Elizabeth Day. Although my taste in literature has become somewhat lower-brow, as it were, over the years, I can’t read anything that isn’t actually well written. My older daughter, who’s a journalist, runs a monthly literary salon at The Ned Hotel so I get lots of recommendations from her.
Out of all the projects youve been involved with which one do you feel the most proud of?
This made me think. I am so proud, especially in retrospect, of so much of the work. I’m very proud that I started with the most prestigious repertory company at the time, The Bristol Old Vic, working with one of the all-time greats of the theatre, Sir Tyrone Guthrie. I’m very proud of a very off beat television film I did opposite Freddie Jones, The Emergence of Anthony Purdy Esquire written by Charles Wood, in which I played a gypsy girl, completely without makeup, with a Somerset accent. It was ITV’s drama entry to The Monte Carlo TV Festival. Freddie has since told me it came 2nd!
I am so proud to have worked with the magnificent Peter Cushing, & extremely proud that the Hammer Horror films that I did are still being shown -most recently in a season in New York’s newly refurbished Quad Cinema – and enjoyed.
I’m proud to have been in a scene with Gregory Peck & been able to watch a master at work.And pretty proud to have held my own ( just about) on stage with such masters of comedy as Yootha Joyce & Richard O’Sullivan.
I’m proud of being chosen for The Exquisite Cadaver, & for the work we did on that wonderful movie.
And finally I’m proud of the 2nd Z Cars I did – one of my best performances, playing a Liverpudlian stripper. The BBC paid a professional stripper to give me lessons!
And I think you only wanted one example here!
The Emergence of Anthony Purdy, Esq., Farmer’s Labourer (1970)
What’s the most ‘starstruck’ you have been?
Starstruck? Well funnily enough it wasn’t with any of the people I’ve worked with – that just all seemed just part of the job at the time. However I met & chatted to Will Smith at a pre-premiere party a couple of years ago, & I was completely bowled over. No one really comes near to that!
What was one of the most memorable films you saw as a child?
Well,I loved High Noon – and that song by TexRitter (Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling) melted my heart. I still can remember all the words! Also Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn – I went straight out and had my hair cut short after seeingthat! Needless to say, I looked nothing like Ms Hepburn – the haircut didn’t suit me at all!
What do you find the hardest part of your creative process and how do you deal with it?
Probably the hardest part of preparation for me is to conquer my nerves, and not let those nerves get in the way of focusing on who you are playing.
What is one of the best pieces of advice you can remember being given and from whom?
I imagine I’ve been given loads over the years but the 2 pieces that stick in my mind is, from Noelle Gordon who was very complimentary ‘Just keep on doing exactly as you are doing – it is just the right sort of performance’ which actually totally threw me because I didn’t really know what I was doing! And the other from Doris Speed in Coronation Street, which I ‘ve mentioned before.She told me to splash my face each morning with cold water, which I do religiously to this day.
If you could change one thing about the industry you are in, what would it be?
Only what we have been hearing a lot about recently, that is respect for women & equality in pay.
Do you read reviews of projects you work on?
Yes, I would always read reviews.
If you had to make a ‘bucket list’ of people you’d love to work with, tell me one name who would be on it?
Bucket list: Marlon Brando. Of course. But people still around ? Tarantino. And Leonardo Di Caprio.And Ryan Gosling. (Sighs)
Do you prefer day shoots or night shoots?
I don’t prefer either day or night. Both are equally exciting. I love the whole collaborative process of filming.
What is one of your most favourite locations you have filmed in?
Well, my absolute favorite was the poet Shelley’s actual house in Lerici in Italy. It was absolutely extraordinary to be standing on the exact balcony that my character (Jane Williams) & Mary Shelley (played by Jenny Agutter) stood on to wait for their men, who never came home. It still gives me goosebumps to think of playing that scene in that location.
From TV’s The Professionals
What film scares you?
Plenty of films scare me. For the past couple of years, & again in October this year, I have been one the judges of The Misty Moon International Film Festival – most of the movies selected are horror movies & some are particularly nerve wracking to watch! But nothing quite has the impact that the shower scene in Psycho had the first time ( & the second &, actually every time!)
What film always makes you laugh?
Two films that make me laugh are Bridesmaids & one of my absolute all time favourites, Pulp Fiction. Also the Carry On films still manage to make me chuckle.
What film do you love that you feel most people might not be aware of?
A film that I love that may not be that well known? The Lives Of Others was a tremendous film – German, with subtitles. It won an Oscar for the best foreign language film. Also Oliver Stone’s Salvador I loved, and Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers. Looking at those choices, I notice that they’re all pretty political!
In your creative roles? What is the longest day that you’ve ever had?
The longest days’ filming have always been on commercials, but that always had a plus side as the overtime payments used to add up. I dunno if the unions are as strong about that now.
Do you have any ‘props or keepsakes from your films?
The only keepsake I have is the silver chain that became a feature on The Exquisite Cadaver. The director Vicente Aranda gave it to me on the last day of filming. It can be seen in many of the subsequent roles I’ve had, & I still wear it and treasure it.
Have you ever gotten someone’s autograph? Which is the most memorable for you?
Autographs have never been a big thing for me, but when I was a teenager I stood outside the stage door of Luther to get Albert Finney’s autograph. I loved him then & still do.
And I accosted Winnie Mandela in a supermarket in Cape Town. I asked for an autograph ‘for my daughter’. I just wanted an excuse to talk to her!
Thank you Judy for taking some time out to put together this article. For those who wish to say hi to Judy, You can do so on her Official Facebook Page